Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Preservation Centre

So our group actually went on this tour back on May 18th, but I somewhat forgot to write about it.

I apologize for lack of pictures. We weren’t really allowed to take anything in with us, so the best I can do is describe it. Click on the image below though, they have a few pictures on their own site.

Library and Archives Canada Preservation Centre

The architecture is really interesting since it’s inspired by the Prairies. The towers look like oil rigs, and the various connected buildings in and outside look like barns or silos. The Centre itself is also separated into two sections. The inside vault is basically in a big cement block and then there’s a large hallway space with a glass building surrounding it. To give you perspective on the size, it’s two football fields big and could fit 2 boeing 747s if the vault wasn’t in it.

The inside has 4 floors of vault and then an open floor above for work areas. Each vault floor has numerous vaults separated into rectangular rooms much like most places that store materials. Humidity and temperature is different depending on the format of the material inside as to be expected. Audio/video is of course as challenge due to the shifts in format/technology. The paintings are pretty neat. There were a number of Laurier portraits, the Churchill one was nice, and copies of the original Proclamation of the Constitution Act. The original we’ve been told is in a top secret vault (no kidding).

Proclamation of the Constitution Act

The top floor is the “village” where they have little huts with all the equipment they need to do restoration, preservation, and format transfers. They’re considered huts since they can be reconfigured (I imagine they don’t do it all that often though). Particularly neat was the page remaking process where they remake and fill in what’s missing of each page from a book, and also the cover remaking/rebinding. We got to watch a short video on the comparison between before and after a film restoration which was pretty cool.

It was a very cool tour. It’s definitely worth going if you have time!

Traffic Curbing in a “Collaborative” Environment

So, it seems like lots of social media is used here and a lot of it is done in house. WordPressMU blogs, MediaWiki install, video/audio repository, RSS feeds, SharePoint… you get the idea. However, other social media wouldn’t really make sense to do in house, like Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/etc.

However, bandwidth is limited for Internet usage (i.e. outside of the Intranet), but perhaps because general Internet usage is needed by many, it’s only certain types of sites that are restricted. Chat/external e-mail is just blocked, but some sites are simply limited by bandwidth;¬†primarily social media sites (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/etc.).¬† Facebook… okay, you got chat, games, apps, pics, vids… very bandwidth intensive stuff.¬† But why Twitter? It’s all just text. (Use of Google tools too is somewhat encouraged for the collaborative bits, and I have no problem with maps/reader/calendar, but google docs just stalls…)

The Solution? Third-party apps. As long as your supervisor approves of it, you can request to get it installed. So, I now have TweetDeck to post on twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever other social media I’d like to, and keep track of friends too.

In the end, I can’t complain too much, because they’re already way ahead of others in promoting and encouraging use of collaborative tools and social media for work purposes compared to many other organizations, non-government included.